public law


Definition of public law

1 : a legislative enactment affecting the public at large
2 : a branch of law concerned with regulating the relations of individuals with the government and the organization and conduct of the government itself — compare private law

Examples of public law in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Columbia University accepted the book as a dissertation and awarded Dr. Smith a PhD in 1964 in the field of public law and government. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, "Jean Edward Smith, biographer who reassessed presidential reputations, dies at 86," 16 Sep. 2019 Columbia University accepted the book as a dissertation and awarded Dr. Smith his PhD in 1964 in the field of public law and government., "He had complications from Parkinson’s disease, said his wife, Christine Smith.," 16 Sep. 2019 South Carolina Columbia: Residents will pay less to go to the state’s only public law school next year. USA TODAY, "Women in baseball, Lynyrd Skynyrd, circus fire: News from around our 50 states," 1 July 2019 Eight months later, Willems himself was on the way out—exiting a role as one of the White House’s lead trade negotiators with China to join law firm Akin Gump’s public law and policy practice. Rey Mashayekhi, Fortune, "Here Are All the 'Best People' That Have Quit Trump's Economic Team," 7 June 2019 Klobuchar’s path was glitterier: Yale undergrad, University of Chicago law school, a stint in corporate law before two terms as Hennepin County Attorney (the biggest public law office in Minnesota), and then her successful Senate bid. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "Personable, Popular, Pragmatic: Is Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar the Democrat’s Secret Weapon?," 15 Jan. 2019 Others who have made the switch include a top aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Brendan Dunn, who joined Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in May as a partner in its public law and policy practice. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: Trump draws powerful enemy in trade fight: the Koch brothers," 5 June 2018 The private John Marshall Law School will become part of the University of Illinois at Chicago, creating the city's first public law school. Fox News, "Chicago's John Marshall Law School to merge into UIC," 20 July 2018 Although the promenade would be open to the public during daylight hours every day, it would be privately owned and not subject to public laws, such as an open container policy. Meryl Kornfield,, "Pier 66 proposal back before Fort Lauderdale commission," 19 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'public law.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of public law

1531, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about public law

Statistics for public law

Last Updated

30 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for public law

The first known use of public law was in 1531

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for public law

public law


Legal Definition of public law

1 : an enactment of a legislature that affects the public at large throughout the entire territory (as a state or nation) which is subject to the jurisdiction of the legislature or within a particular subdivision of its jurisdiction : general law

called also public act, public statute

— compare local law sense 1a
2a : the area of law that deals with the relations of individuals with the state and regulates the organization and conduct of government — compare private law
b : international law regulating the relations among sovereign states or nations as distinguished from private international law

More from Merriam-Webster on public law

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with public law Encyclopedia article about public law

Comments on public law

What made you want to look up public law? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


fear of the number 13

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!